Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Open letter to a foreigner on Indian dining etiquette

Article written exclusively for the India Today group (Click Here)
Dear Foreigner,

Congrats! It's your moment of glory. Finally after much analysis and plotting out innumerable cost versus benefit graphs your desi brown complexioned (read: caramel with a tinge of cocoa, or as we call it on Shaadi.com, wheatish) friend has invited you over for a meal. Please bear in mind food serves as the binding and dividing factor amongst Indians. Innumerable wars and assassinations have been executed for global supremacy amongst South Indian community in the "my idli is softer than yours" conundrum. And it's equally bad in the North where good aloo paratha making abilities in girls could easily give you a winning edge over your peers even if they have Harvard degrees to flaunt when it comes to matrimonial alliances. Now just in case I get stoned to death for being sexist, let me clarify. As a Punjabi I have a soft corner both, for women and aloo parathas but a softer corner for aloo parathas. We are in a "peep into each other's soul" kinda relationship you see.

Before any meal you shall be force fed plenty of fried snacks to kill any potential signs of your appetite with an assortment of two dozen kinds of chutneys to smear them in.

[SPOILER ALERT] - Your host may get offended if you don't dip your snack in his/her favourite chutney.

Now social etiquette demands you play this traditional Indian tug of war game where you ask the gracious hostess to sit down while she insists that she will go to the kitchen to get more delicacies to serve you. You just have to remain and chant the following mantra every alternate minute- "Arey baitho baitho"

"Sit sit..... no no ghar ki hi baat hai..sit sit.... no noo mein abhi gayi aur abhi aaye....sit sit...arey isme formality kya hai sit sit  aap bhi na sharminda karte hai"

Soon you shall be led to the dinner table after a series of frantic SOS calls  from the kitchen  informing you the roti temperature cooling down could be the next fatal sign for the upcoming apocalypse.

Now roti making is an intricate art within itself. Don't believe me?

Statutory warning - Reader discretion is advised before reading the #fun fact below unless you are from Delhi in which case it really doesn't matter considering pushing fellow homo sapiens  into tandoors is a much loved sport out there.

#Fun fact - Portia in the play Julius Caesar killed herself  by swallowing coals in excitement the last time she got her rotis round....#ThingsYourEnglishTeacherNeverToldYou

Just in case you don't aim to score high in the "what kind of asshole are you?" quizzes on Facebook, you might want to appreciate the host's rotis for being softer than fur regardless of how hard they are to break.

If you are eating a rice based meal pour some curry over it and eat it with your  bare hands even if you have to swallow your pride with it. And please don't act all innocent. The last time you foreigners  came to know of this awesome thing called biryani you ripped it apart by branding it as KFC Rizo rice just to fuck around with our desi emotions.

Just in case you find the food too spicy, keep the water bottle next to you and try not to get your face red. Trust me , my friend Indian food has killed no one till date. Of course I  have strategically excluded deaths due to fun indian games like-

"Hey that's a white skinned fellow. Come let's avenge the "teen guna Lagaan" sanction imposed by Britishers upon us few decades ago by stuffing him up with spicy pani puris "

Over the course of the meal keep praising your host with eloquent comments like "Oh I love the colour, texture and composition of your food. The aroma and flavours form a medley by themselves" while reminiscing of Jesus' Last Supper in your head.Remember to finish everything on your plate and bit from the person sitting to you too if he/she is not looking.

Now as you near the end the host will persuade you to  eat more with statements like "don't feel shy. Feel at home" while mentally keeping a count of your roti consumption since the start of the meal.

Now is the time you politely decline them and bid farewell to all lest you want to forgo the chance of getting invited again.
Congratulations.You have nailed it finally.
Yours most cunningly,
Rahul Batra

Disclaimer: The above work is completely fictitious pretty much like the Parsi population in India. In which case do allow me to crack a few #YoDikraSoFat  jokes. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental just like how blonde babes seem to pop up out of thin air in Punjabi music videos.
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